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Htc Corporation, ZTE (USA), Inc. v. Cellular Communications Equipment, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

December 18, 2017

HTC CORPORATION, ZTE (USA), INC., Appellants
v.
CELLULAR COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT, LLC, Appellee

         Appeal from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board in No. IPR2014-01134.

          Steven Arthur Moore, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, San Diego, CA, argued for appellants. Also represented by Matthew Robert Stephens, Brian Christopher Nash, Austin, TX.

          Barry James Bumgardner, Nelson Bumgardner PC, Fort Worth, TX, argued for appellee. Also represented by John P. Murphy.

          Before Dyk, Reyna, and Taranto, Circuit Judges.

          REYNA, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         HTC Corporation and ZTE (USA), Inc. appeal a final written decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in an inter partes review. Appellants argue that the Board improperly construed the claim term "message" and erred in finding that HTC failed to show that the prior art anticipated or rendered obvious the challenged claims. We find no error in the Board's claim construction, and substantial evidence supports the Board's patentability determination. We affirm.

         Background

         A. The '174 Patent

         U.S. Patent No. 7, 941, 174 ("'174 patent") is directed to methods and apparatuses for a radio communications system where a subscriber station, i.e., a mobile device, is assigned a plurality of codes for transmitting messages. '174 Patent Abstract, col. 2 ll. 1-6. The assigned codes correspond to data transmission channels in a Universal Mobile Telecommunications System ("UMTS"), in particular here, a Dedicated Uplink Channel ("DCH") for transmitting messages and an Enhanced Dedicated Uplink Channel ("EDCH") for transmitting high bit rate messages. Id. col. 4 ll. 26-40. To send messages to a UMTS base station, the subscriber station requires "transmit" or "transmission" power. When radio transmission conditions deteriorate, such as when there is a high amount of interference in the communications cell, the base station may command the subscriber station to increase transmit power in order to send the message. Id. col. 7 ll. 20-26, 31-33; J.A. 2125. But the subscriber station is limited in the amount of transmission power it can use, called the "maximum transmission power, " which is "preferably predetermined by the hardware of the subscriber station" or "predefined on the network side." Id. col. 2 ll. 50-51, 57-58. According to the '174 patent, operating at maximum transmission power is undesirable because the subscriber station cannot increase transmission power to overcome poor transmission conditions, which in turn results in incomplete and aborted message transmissions. See id. col. 6 ll. 20-27.

         To avoid operating at maximum transmission power, the '174 patent's claimed solution sets a "transmit power difference" or "power headroom" for the plurality of codes in the subscriber station at the beginning of a message transmission. Id. col. 6 ll. 40-47. Setting this power headroom permits the subscriber station when sending messages to increase transmit power to overcome interference and thus avoid aborted message transmission. The transmit power difference "corresponds to an unused transmit power at the start of the transmission" of a message, such as a message transmitted over EDCH. Id. col. 6 ll. 47-49.

         Illustrative of the method claims, independent claim 1 teaches:

         1. A method for operating a radio communication system in which a subscriber station is assigned a plurality of codes for transmitting messages, comprising:

determining a transmit power difference which is to be maintained by the subscriber station between on one hand a total maximum transmit power of the subscriber station for the codes and on another hand a total transmit power of the subscriber station for the codes at a start of a message transmission using a first one of the codes.

Id. col. 9 ll. 56-64.

         Illustrative of the apparatus claims, independent claim 18 teaches:

         18. A subscriber station for a radio communication system, the subscriber station assigned a plurality of codes for transmitting messages, comprising:

at least one processor programmed to determine a transmit power difference which is to be maintained by the subscriber station between on one hand a total maximum transmit power of the subscriber station for the codes and on another hand a total transmit power of the subscriber station for the codes at a start of a message transmission using a first one of the codes.

Id. col. 12 11. 1-10.

         The sole figure in the specification depicts the relationship between the mobile station, UE, which transmits messages over the DCH and EDCH channels, and base station, NODE B, in a UMTS system:

         (Image Omitted)

         Id. ...


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